Photo Courtesy of Scott Wood
The community of Vinton, Iowa, with a population of 5,000, is located in Eastern Iowa midway between the much larger communities of Cedar Rapids and Waterloo. Vinton is surrounded by much smaller communities, all of which have high-speed fiber broadband systems provided by their incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC).
Dissatisfied with the bandwidth and reliability of their internet providers, community volunteers in Vinton began a campaign for voters to approve the establishment of a municipal communications utility. FARR Technologies was involved early in the process, meeting with the volunteers and a nearby ILEC that was considering a partnership.
“As community volunteers we understood the value of a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) system,” explains Kurt Karr, an early organizer of the campaign, “but next to nothing about the process of designing, financing, and constructing a municipal utility from scratch. I don’t believe the Vinton system would have been built without the patient assistance of FARR, and their professional expertise.”
FARR continued to provide information and advice from their first involvement with Vinton in 2012, through to the successful vote in 2015 and subsequent establishment of the utility board. Though several firms were interviewed to complete the feasibility study, the Vinton board chose to use FARR.
“There are two things I’ve appreciated about working with FARR,” says Tom Richtsmeier, general manager of Vinton Utilities, “the first is their commitment to honesty, and the second is their attention to detail. I’ve never had reason to suspect that FARR wasn’t being completely transparent and acting with integrity. As an engineer I appreciate that they work hard paying attention to the small details that can easily cause a project to go sideways.”
Spring of 2020 marked the substantial completion of the construction part of the FTTP
project. In October 2020, a local developer decided to add another 70+ lots plus a
multi-tenant lot that will allow for a potential of another 118 customers to the network,
which is an expansion of the nearly 40 lots added late in 2019 that were added to the
broadband network infrastructure that occurred after the VMCU was created. Construction for the development will take place in 2021 for the broadband element of
service for the second phase of the development area.
Turn-Up of the network started in June 2020 with subscribers being added every week.
As of the end of 2020, subscriber conversions are on pace as originally estimated by the